Matthew Williamson is not adored by Minnesota

H&M quickly became a staple source for my wardrobe when I moved out east for college.  I remember visiting my best friend in Northampton and being seduced by the notion of fast fashion at a great price.  My sophomore year, H&M opened its doors in Boston and I remember standing in line opening day w/ a close friend eager to shop through the diverse options crammed into each rack.  The winter after I graduated, Karl Lagerfeld launched his collection for H&M, pioneering the idea that to label something “cheap” was a depressing word and that it was all about taste.  I still love my winter overcoat I picked up from that collaboration.  Stella, Viktor & Rolf, Roberto Cavalli, and Comme des Garçons have all come and gone with their stints for H&M, each time, drawing long lines on launch day…or so I’ve learned through online blogs and news reports.  The following year after Karl, I left my life out east to go back home to Minnesota.  

Conveniently, H&M opened up its first store at the Mall of America that fall, and I initially felt relief that I could count on this Swedish phenom to work its magic on the land of Scandinavians, opening their eyes to something beyond the ho-hum drabness from the likes of Abercrombie & Fitch, American Eagle, Gap, (insert any other midwest mall chain here)…

I couldn’t be farther from the truth.  H&M Minnesota style was boring, extremely edited, and laughed at me when I asked if Viktor & Rolf would be making an appearance.  I believe I got a sympathetic look from one of the sales associates last summer when I inquired where the mens section for Marimekko X H&M was located on the floor because I was having difficulty finding even the tiniest shred of those beautiful vintage prints anywhere in the mens section.  All this, and yet they’ll be opening a third location in Minnesota this coming fall…in the fabled fed-with-a-silver-spoon Twin Cities suburb of Edina to be exact (please please carry the trend lines?)…

Over the years, I’ve become resigned to the fact that I’ll never truly find a piece worth getting excited over at my MOA location, and that instead, I should save those moments for when I’m in Herald Square, 51st & 5th, or even Soho with my sister.   

Matthew Williamson for H&M encored in the vast majority of H&M locations last Thursday, May 14th.  With PR images released about two weeks ahead of time, I thought, yes, perhaps this will the moment my Minnesota store will redeem itself — there was the studded leather jacket that generated a lot of buzz even back in February when images of the collection leaked online via Nylon Guys, the floral scarf with a print design that cleverly captured MW’s love for color while referencing H&M Scandinavian roots at the same time (ditto for the leather belt), the beautiful seersucker suit that was more than just your average choice for Seersucker Fridays, and of course, the navy suit with the pyschedelic piping — preppy, but high summer at the same time…  

The leather jacket was what I was after the most — to me, it was the least connected to the rest of his collection in appearance, but just as relevant to his overall theme.  Imagine my dismay when two days prior to the launch, I learned only NYC and LA were receiving the jacket.  As for my sad store, I learned it was carrying only the bare minimums…the navy suit, the three peacock X skulls tees, the floral swimtrunks and the button-down in the same print but different color scheme, the studded jeans, and the floral scarf.  AT LEAST, thank God, the scarf would be within reach.  

I don’t know what I was thinking showing up first thing in the morning at my H&M.  Did I really think it would sell out within the first 10 minutes as previous collections at elsewhere locations had done?  I picked up my scarf, one of the tees, and a few items for my sister, content with my finds, but also resigned to the fact that I would probably only ever be seeing the leather jacket in promo pictures.  My sister managed to turn my frown upside down, but that’s a story for later.

Fastforward one weekend later.  It’s Monday, my sister tells me the collection at the 51st & 5th flagship store was essentially decimated by Friday in the afternoon (whereas the day before, the whole main floor was essentially devoted to this line), and as I head into my MOA store, I wonder how much will be left.  

ALL OF IT.

Except the scarf!  The scarf was the only thing sold out, but a quick perusal of both mens and womens indicated Minnesota is not where you go to launch high fashion.  Well duhhh…  Perhaps it’s the recession.  Perhaps people here would have received this collection more warmly had the price points been more accessible — but in all honesty, I felt this collection was priced very consistently and appropriately.  Perhaps, as Anna Wintour pointed out in an outtake from yesterday’s 60 Minutes interview on CBS, the people here are found to be shaped like little houses and thus, that sheer silk tunic with the gorgeous birds and flowers isn’t appropriate.  Whatever the case, this collection is not moving here.  I quickly called up my sister, picked her up just one more piece to add to her already precious collection of finds from late last week, and called it a day.

Ladies and Gents, hit up the Mall of America if you are visiting from out of town and weren’t able to get what you wanted last week from wherever you came from.  As for the people here, what is wrong with you?!  At this rate, H&M here will never be considered for further collection launches.  In all fairness, there aren’t the truly spectacular pieces to be had here, but beggars can’t be choosers.  We gotta start somewhere, right?  A nice sales associate told me that our store will actually be receiving further shipments in the future from other stores where the line isn’t selling well…unfortunately, this does not mean the seersucker suit will magically appear in The Land of 10,000 Lakes.  It’ll just be more of the same.

Say hello to Niklas Nilsson:

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